SC sacks clerk of court, sheriff; both perpetually banned, benefits forfeited

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The Supreme Court in separate per curiam rulings dismissed a clerk of court for stealing a court’s computer set containing information on drug cases, and a court sheriff for soliciting money from a complainant.

In the first case, the SC found Lou D. Laranjo, Clerk of Court II, Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), Lugait-Manticao-Naawan, Misamis Oriental guilty of grave misconduct and serious dishonesty and dismissed him from service. It also perpetually disqualified him from holding public office and forfeited his retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits.

Laranjo’s dismissal stemmed after MCTC Presiding Judge Renato T. Arroyo to the Office of the Court Administrator that Laranjo “surreptitiously took away” the computer set used by MCTC Court Stenographer I Neza L. Malinao.

The computer contained sensitive information, such as the identities and testimonies of confidential agents and informants in search warrant applications in illegal drug cases.

Laranjo’s act was unauthorized as the computer set was taken during nighttime and on a weekend.

The Court concurred with the findings and recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) which found substantial evidence against Laranjo. It gave weight on OCA’s observation that the circumstances cast doubt on Laranjo’s real intention in taking out the computer set, considering his arrest for involvement in illegal drug activities.

The Court ruled that aside from the lack of authorization, the records are bereft of any credible justification on Laranjo’s part as to why he pursued such course of action.

The Court also dismissed Alan C. Javier, Sheriff IV, Regional Trial Court (RTC)-Office of the Clerk of Court, Tanauan City, Batangas who was found guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service. The Court also forfeited Javier’s benefits and perpetually banned him from public service.

The Court affirmed the report of OCA which found substantial evidence to prove that Javier had violated Section 10 Rule 141 of the Rules of Court for soliciting and accepting money from complainant Roman P. Trinidad. It, however, increased the recommended penalty of OCA from suspension to dismissal.

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